Lentils are a great ingredient, no matter if you are vegan or not. If you are, though, you are probably using them much more than the average person. Uncooked lentils will last very long on their own because they are dry. However, cooking lentils can be quite time-consuming. The cooking time can depend on the type of lentil too, however it is something you need to plan for. Having cooked lentils ready to use in your freezer sounds great, but is it possible? Will the flavour remain the same and will the texture of the lentils get ruined?
Is Freezing Lentils A Good Idea?
The idea of freezing cooked lentils is not terribly original. In fact, probably everyone who cooks lentils on a regular basis and owns a freezer has thought about this. For example, here is what one of our readers told us.
Hi guys! I want to ask you if you decipher this riddle for me – how does one freeze lentils? By that I mean, of course, cooked lentils as freezing dry lentils doesn’t make much sense since they can last very long in the pantry too. The thing I want to do is freeze cooked lentils (see also How To Freeze Dahl) so that they come out of the freezer with their shape and texture intact. Namely, I often make salads with lentils and it’s quite annoying to cook a whole pot of lentils just to add a bit to a salad. It would be much nicer to just take a portion out of the freezer, blast it in the microwave, and add to a salad. However, last time I tried this I froze some cooked red lentils in portion-sized packs. However, when defrosted, they pretty much turned to mush. They were still edible and quite tasty, but they made my salad look terrible. Is there anything that can be done about this?
If you have similar problems, we can tell you that yes, lentils can be frozen! There are some tips you can follow to make lentils keep better in the freezer, however, the key is actually the type of lentil you choose. We’ve found that green lentil varieties freeze best. Brown and red ones, not so much. That is, just like our reader said, they turn overly soft after thawing. They are still great to use in dishes where the firm texture is not so important, like some soups and curries, but definitely not in this case.
How To Freeze Cooked Lentils
#1 Cook The Lentils
Of course, when you want to freeze cooked lentils (see also Can You Freeze Lentil Soup), you’ll need to cook them first. You can use any method and recipe you like. However, we do recommend that you do not overcook the lentils. If you want them firm after thawing, you’ll want to slightly undercook your lentils. They should still be firm, but soft enough that you can bite through the lentil.
#2 Remove As Much Liquid As Possible
The key when freezing lentils is to remove as much liquid as possible before putting them into the freezer. Use a colander to strain the lentils real well when they are done. For best results, you might also want to spread them out on a clean kitchen towel and leave to cool like this for a couple of minutes. This will make sure your lentils are as dry as possible.
#3 Pack, Label & Freeze
Once your lentils are ready, all you need to do is pack them. We prefer solid plastic containers, but freezer bags are also a viable option. All you need to do is transfer the lentils into the container, put a label on it with the date, put the lid on, and freeze.
Tips For Making Your Cooked Lentils Last Longer
Cooked lentils will keep in the freezer for a couple of months. However, you might find that you still don’t like their texture when taken out of the freezer. What can help you in this case is a food saver. A food saver machine (also called a vacuum sealer) will allow you to get all the air out of your freezer bags or containers. This, in turn, will ensure better preservation of the flavor and texture of your frozen lentils.